View from the RAI

So, beyond the fact that it’s been the best-attended IBC ever and that the amount of economic confidence suddenly percolating back into the industry is fairly astonishing, what can we say about IBC2011? What are the five key trends that we can take from the show as we move forwards into 2012 and what could well be sport broadcasting’s biggest year to date? Well, we have some ideas…

One) 3D is a done deal. Not with the consumer yet, admittedly (and that could still go either way) but as far as producing the content goes we’re pretty much there or thereabouts. As one of the panellists at our inaugural Sport Production Summit, held off-site on the day before the show opened, put it: “I don’t want to sit here and talk about kit anymore.” The kit works, end of. And if it doesn’t work, then it really should be sent back to the lab until it does. What’s really needed now are agreed standards so that content works across continents.

Two) The second screen is where the action is. As the IBC Daily headline put it, ‘Tablets will be totally disruptive’ (though we can’t help wishing that someone had tagged the word ‘man’ onto that headline). Second screen apps and technologies were absolutely everywhere on the show floor and at the conference, and the federations we talked to were looking at them and already trying to work out how many extra zeroes they were going to be putting on their budget to accommodate them (answer: not many as this could all generate a decent revenue stream for the industry – for once!). By the time 2012 hoves into view, expect them to be thoroughly mainstream.

Three) Remote production. More and more tech is proving more and more capable at making this a reality, from virtual cameras that let productions remotely monitor events with no human operator intervening to full blown switching of signals thousands of kilometres away. It’s embryonic at the moment, but we’ve been hearing of projects that are looking to scale up from a simple switching between a two-camera studio set-up to a multi-camera assisted broadcast (assisted meaning that Camera One and Two are driven by people, the rest are remote heads) in the very near future. Whether it’s a genuine threat to the OB business is arguable, but it represents a shifting of the ground no matter what and people need to be prepared.

Four) 4k to the home. Yes, it’s coming. Super Hi-Vision seems to be too far out for many manufacturers, and so the prospect of building 4k infrastructure into everything all of a sudden appeals, with a four or five year timeframe being mentioned off the record in several high up places. One to keep an eye on…

Five) Sport remains at the forefront of industry developments. But you know that already, didn’t you? šŸ˜‰

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